Walthamstow Wetlands, a space for conservation and contemplation in London, has welcomed summer with a flurry of wildlife activity and visitors enjoying the blue skies and warm weather. From colourful dragonflies and a mass of meadow flowers to beautiful bird song and an array of fledglings, Europe’s largest urban wetland nature reserve is the perfect place to escape the bustle, enjoy the calm and connect to nature in the city over summer.
As a special home to wildlife both resident and rare, there is plenty to observe on every visit to Walthamstow Wetlands. A pair of locally-breeding Peregrine Falcon have now brought their two youngsters onto the pylons near the Engine House and Coppermill Tower.
With their loud screeching calls, these juveniles can be seen throughout the day begging for food from the adults. There are now also over 400 Canada Geese and 300 Tufted Duck and Pochard on the north side of Walthamstow Wetlands - they are using the reservoirs to moult their flight feathers which is an important process for migratory wildfowl. This is one of the reasons why the Wetlands are nationally and regionally important for these ducks and geese and why we ask visitors to take care in not causing these birds distress as they are currently unable to fly away.
Walthamstow Wetlands is also home to many species of moths and butterflies. Over 100 moth species have now been recorded including the Cinnabar, Six Spot Burnets and the elusive Lunar Hornet Moth. If you look carefully, you might be able to spot a Buff Tip which looks like a broken twig from the silver birch tree!
With around 20 species of butterfly onsite and also over 20 species of damselfly / dragonfly, the site is bursting with bold colours and patterns - Small Blues, Essex Skippers, Cabbage Whites can be seen dancing in the meadows and dragonflies are often found darting over the reedbeds. In addition to the many insects, visitors can also observe a number of mammals onsite including the resident fox families. There have also been six bat species recorded onsite including the Daubenton's bat, which flies across the reservoirs and grabs insects from the water's surface with its large feet or tail.
At this time of year, much of the practical conservation work, managed by London Wildlife Trust onsite, slows down allowing the team to take the time to survey the site and understand how the wildlife is using it. In doing so, effective plans for next year’s habitat improvement works can be carefully put together to help both the wildlife currently using the site and to also create new habitats for more species such as water voles.
To encourage visitors to get closer to nature throughout the summer months, Walthamstow Wetlands will be hosting a variety of events and activities including star gazing evenings and Bushcraft Week. There will also be a live wildlife drawing class in August where visitors can enjoy a detailed talk from an expert local falconer and learn to draw British birds of prey such as the Peregrine Falcon, Barn and Tawny Owls. To educate children on the Thames Water operational uses of the site as well as its conservational importance, there will also be summer junior ranger activities for children aged between 4 – 11 years where they can help build camouflaged dens, create an outdoors creepy crawlies hotel and carefully observe wildlife from the bird hide.